Marriage Monday: Full Disclosure

Let’s set the scene. Suppose a guy approaches a girl he is interested in and proceeds to ask her out. She agrees, and they both decide to go grab some coffee (always do coffee on first dates because if it is going poorly you can leave quickly. Dinner requires a longer time commitment.). The evening is going well so they set up another date. On the second date they decide to do dinner and then enjoy the beautiful weather in a local park. During their time together he proceeds to tell her that he had a gambling addiction back in 2009, has previously been divorced due to stepping out of his marriage, and that he struggles with anxiety. He is a new person now, and much has changed in his life. In fact, God has done a marvelous work in his life, and you can see hardly any resemblance to the person he was before. Even in spite of his life transformation and change in character, what are the odds that he gets a third date? Probably slim to none. But if the young man had put on a good exterior, kept his defects of character well hidden, glossed over past failures, and put on a nice, pretty face, odds are good that he would have gotten another date.

We have learned, through behavior modification, what to say that brings about good immediate results. Our culture has also groomed us to only show our good side; to be who other people want us to be. To keep our true selves hidden for fear that others will not accept us for who we really are and for the list of mistakes we have incurred. So people become involved in relationships that are shallow and devoid of true intimacy.

The real tragedy of these types of relationships is that people never feel loved for who they really are. They never truly get their basic human need of love and acceptance met. In the back of their mind the thought continually arises, “Would they still love me if they knew who I really am?”

This occurs not in just new relationships, it occurs in seasoned marriages as well. So often, spouses have never gotten to see the bared soul of their partner. Sure, they know many of the strengths and defects in their spouse due to spending so much time with them, but they never truly see them in their entirety. Not only does this keep a person from feeling full love and acceptance, it also allows defects and hidden sins to thrive because they remain covered. If we fear rejection for showing our real selves, most often the real self remains locked away behind layers of locked steal.

One of the best things my wife and I ever did while we were dating was complete disclosure with one another about who we were and where we had been. Once we knew there was potential for our friendship to be romantic, and we felt safe enough with each other, we laid every single card out on the table. It was very much a “here is who I am, here are my shortcomings, here is how I am broken, you can take me for who I am, or we can stop here” type of conversation.

Having this conversation was not intuitive for either of us. What would have felt more natural and comfortable was to gloss over our defects and insecurities, put on a somewhat false veneer, put our best foot forward, and do our best to impress one another. We both knew that we wanted something different, so we chose to take a risk and let the other person see us for who we really were, including the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Intimacy can only be established in the presence of complete truth. We must allow our partner to know us completely if we want to feel loved and valued for who we are. So many people never attain this because they are too scared of being rejected so they keep pieces of themselves hidden in shadow. To feel loved requires a certain amount of risk, but taking that risk can pay off in a life altering way. True intimacy allows one to rest in the relationship that they have. They find security, safety, and comfort knowing that one other person in the world knows them entirely and loves them for the person they are.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

9 Comments

  • Tracie says:

    Love this post Josh! You hit upon one of my biggest fears in life, fear of rejection. I’ve already had so much rejection, I don’t want any more ( and not just refection from my spouse, but the world in general). I thank God that He gave me a man who loves me as I am, major flaws and all.

  • hiddinsight says:

    Such a great post about how to keep intimacy in marriage: Revealing it all. In order to accomplish this you have to create a safety net for each other so that they can freely share anything without feeling punished, judged, or criticized. I stopped sharing fully with my husband because I felt like he didn’t understand what I was trying to say, and that shut down communication. That was a landslide. Now that we are back on track, intimacy has been the number one communication focus for us…but the key is in providing that safety in your relationship.

  • Joe says:

    Great Post Josh!! it is exactly what young people dating need to hear as well as the seasoned in marriage and everyone in between.

  • Mo says:

    What a fabulous post – thank you for publishing this. I found your site when I was searching for an answer about whether or not full disclosure is required to have a really good relationship – my gut tells me it is, but a lot of professionals will tell you its not – that a person always has to hold some part of themselves back. In my marriage, a lot is being held back and the lack of intimacy is palpable, and it leads to other negativity – short tempers, blame shifting, deflection and lots of changing the subject. Any suggestions for how to bring your spouse around to this truth – that real love requires full disclosure?

    • Josh Fults says:

      Yea, I think there is a large difference between maintaining an individual identity and withholding oneself in a relationship. You are correct, intimacy will definitely be hindered when one or both partners withhold emotionally or keep elements of their life secretive. I would simply have a discussion about it with my spouse. What do we both want? Are we both on the same page about wanting to create and foster intimacy? IF so, what will that take? Set some specific goals and how you both hope to accomplish those goals. Be specific. Lay some ground rules. How much are we both comfortable disclosing at this point? What will changing this aspect cost us? Are we comfortable with that cost? Disclosing does not mean gaining information to use against the other one. Trust can only be built in at atmosphere of acceptance and love.

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